lunch meat by the slice, or pre-packaged?

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Alex Tut Alex Tut
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lunch meat by the slice, or pre-packaged?

One would think by the slice is the greener way to go, especially if I bring my own container. But my Whole Foods does not have organic ham or turkey by the slice. So I spoke to the deli counter person, and they told me how much plastic wrapper they use every day on the ham chunk they slice. Each time they slice some for one customer, they rewrap the ham with cellophane, and throw the previous cellophane away. They said they were going through cellophane rolls like nothing else.
So...for my own trash can, it is best to buy the ham at the deli counter, and use my own container to bring it home, but for the overall community, it seems that it is the same amount of plastic trash generated. so should I go ahead and buy the pre-packaged organic ham for my family?
Any input is greatly appreciated.
Jay Jay
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Re: lunch meat by the slice, or pre-packaged?

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An excellent post: I had a similar experience at WF yesterday, where I asked about having a chunk of cheese cut from the wheel instead of the already prewrapped chunks sitting out. The cheesemonger said she'd have to rewrap with fresh sw. Sheesh. Not all Markets have the same policy, but if WF is your only choice, a consideration would be the recyclability of the various plastics. I'd also push the point and question why they'd have to use fresh wrap each time at a Deli counter. Doesn't make sense. Some of WFs policies really are archaic.
Also, Beth @ My Plastic-Free Life says she only buys cheese by the wheel to avoid plastic issues (few cheese wheels are even NOT encased in plastics).
So, anyway, is there a third alternative for you all? Buy ham in a bigger chunk, slice yourself, and freeze, or ????. Maybe you could call ahead and place an order so when the ham is unwrapped for someone else they can cut enough for you. Ugh.
It's a difficult choice.
Sorry haven't better answer, hope others have ideas.
Sandra Sandra
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Re: lunch meat by the slice, or pre-packaged?

In reply to this post by Alex Tut
I really like what Karin said in the thread, "How Bulk is Bulk? Are We really Avoiding Packaging?," posted under the "Shopping" tab. By bringing your own container, you are putting "the burden of packaging and subsequent waste/trash on the manufacturer and the retailer (and so on) in an effort to change behavior at those levels."

In this case, though, it seems like Whole Foods needs to be reminded that their current deli packaging practices are unnecessarily wasteful. All that cellophane and extra trash comes at a cost to the company. I'm sure HQ would also like to know that their customers are concerned about the extra trash produced at the deli counter. WF encourages customer feedback on their Twitter account @WholeFoods. I found it easiest to reach my regional WF store by email, which is listed on the Whole Foods website.

Thanks for pointing this out, Alex. I occasionally purchase deli meats (and cheese more frequently) at WF. There is a lot of plastic wrap around everything. At the store I frequent, the in-house honey-roasted turkey, roast beef, prosciutto, and salami are not wrapped in cellophane. All the opened cheeses are, though. I wonder why some are wrapped and some are not?
Alex Alex
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Re: lunch meat by the slice, or pre-packaged?

Thanks guys for responding. I spoke to another person at Whole Foods, to find out that the town was who forced them to rewrap (and throw the previous wrap away) the cheeses and cold meats each time they served a customer. Therefore, the other WF down the street, in another town, does not do that. Crazy! So, I need to find the time to write a letter to the town I guess, to ask why they have such wasteful rules. I highly doubt that we have less food poisoning in their town than in the next, thanks to that rule, right?! So frustrating!
Anyway, if anyone knows who to contact to discuss such issue with the town, please let me know. I am not sure how to go by trying to change this.
Jay Jay
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Re: lunch meat by the slice, or pre-packaged?

So it's the town, not WF, that has the archaic policies. Huh!
As far as what you can do, letter writing sounds like a good idea once you know WHO to send it to! Maybe WF's mgr can help you, as it's their bottom line getting slammed. Sponsoring a petition vs a "backdoor" low key approach??
I don't know if anyone here can give you advice, but we would all lend [mental] moral support! I guess all depends on your interest in activism.
Glad you pursued the question, good luck, and let us know if anything changes.
Oh, and meanwhile, have you come up with a strategy for your family?
Alex Alex
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Re: lunch meat by the slice, or pre-packaged?

Thanks Jay for the support, I like the idea of talking to the WF manager, and find out where they get their directives from in town.
As for my family's strategy, I bought my first mozzarella cheese block unwrapped, and brought home with my clip top jar. The lady had to get a pair of new plastic gloves to serve me, opened a brand new big mozzarella block to cut three large pieces for me...As she was going through it, I am trying to determine if the gloves, plus the rewrapping ends up being about as much trash as if I had grabbed the pieces they had already cut, wrapped and ticketed...I froze some of it, so I will see if it still tastes good after thawing. If so, I might have to buy the whole big block of cheese that will last us several months, to save on the overall trash. But I will go home with the original wrapping of the whole block of cheese. I don't know that I want to do that with a whole ham though, unless I buy a slicing machine!
The other thing I learned is that organic cheese and hams don't come by the slice at the deli counter. Something about loosing their organic label if they do. So that's why they are prepacked, for control I guess. So in the end, you can't be pro-organic and green at the same time on everything. Disappointing.
Same result on fresh meats. You can not get fresh pasture raised (not to confuse with cage free) meat at the meat counter, to avoid packaging. You can only get it frozen, in plastic. And that's because their production and demand (turn over) is not high enough to avoid waste. Plus small farms don't have the facilities to process (cut) meat. So they ship it out to be cut, packaged and frozen, and receive it back to sell. That one I am not compromising on though. I know too much about the meat market to not buy from my local farmer. Can't win on that one.
Jay Jay
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Re: lunch meat by the slice, or pre-packaged?

It'd be interesting to hear what the WF management would say.
You clearly have encountered the reality of the philosophical dilemma Sandra referred to. You've made a choice regarding the pasture raised meat. Soon you will decide about the cheeses and other foods. Tough about the organic products: I didn't know about losing their classification if opened.  Too bad as it makes two desirable goals mutually exclusive. And, yeah, slicing a whole ham- "a bit" extreme.... Wish there were easier solutions, and that we didn't have to prioritize our choices!
Anyhow, congrats on the efforts.
Sandra Sandra
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Re: lunch meat by the slice, or pre-packaged?

In reply to this post by Alex
Sounds like you will need to contact your local health department or food safety inspector. The contact information should be on the inspection certificate that is posted somewhere in the store. It may also be a good idea to contact the inspector from the other town, too. Then, you will have their regulations to show to your local health department. Good luck, and hope you'll keep us posted on what you find out.
Alex Alex
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Re: lunch meat by the slice, or pre-packaged?

Thanks so much Sandra and Jay! That's great info. I will look for the information on the certificate, or will ask the manager to give it to me next time I go there. The town of Cary, NC is well known among businesses for being the worst to deal with anyway, so I am not expecting much from a potential discussion or petition. But does not hurt to try. Especially with the other city (Raleigh, the capital city of the state!) regulation on hand.
We'll see where this goes! Thanks again, I'll definitely post a follow up if I get anywhere!